Arundo donax renewable energy project receives funding

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) is celebrating the Caribbean’s first project preparation facility (PPF) grant with the approval of US$694,000 by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for the Arundo donax Renewable Energy Project in Belize.

The grant will fund, among other things, feasibility and gender studies, and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. These studies are pre-requisites for the development of a funding proposal to the GCF, to undertake an investment energy project based on the use of Arundo donax.

The project is intended to enable Belize to utilise the indigenous plant locally known as wild cane, (scientific name Arundo donax) as a sustainable source energy for electricity generation. The grant will provide the resources that the government needs to conduct the necessary studies to ascertain the plant’s viability, with the intention of facilitating large-scale commercial cultivation for energy generation purposes.

The GoB enlisted the GCF’s help to pursue its objective of expanding the use of biomass- in particular the Arundo donax- to meet some of the country’s growing energy needs.  The plant has already been assessed as having a high energy yield based on previous studies carried out by the Centre.  It is expected that by using the plant, Belize will be able to (i) provide a sustainable source of energy for the country, (ii) reduce Belize’s carbon footprint, and (iii) add to the country’s climate change adaptation measures.

If successful, Belize could develop commercial renewable enterprises based on the use of the Arundo donax which could bring significant benefits to Belize and the Caribbean. Immediate benefits include the stabilisation of power production from Belize Co-generation Energy Limited (BELCOGEN), provision of clean sustainable power throughout the year, creation of new jobs in the cultivation of Arundo donax on marginal lands, saving foreign exchange by displacing imported fuel, increasing energy security, reducing Belize’s greenhouse gas emissions and the power costs to Belize Electricity Limited (BEL).

“The Government and people of Belize, welcome this unique initiative, and expect that it will play a critical role in the socioeconomic development of Belize,” said Ms Yvonne Hyde Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment Trade and Commerce and Belize’s National Designated Authority (NDA) to the GCF.

The application for the GCF grant was submitted by the Centre on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment Trade and Commerce. The Centre, which became an accredited GCF Institution in 2015, will continue working with the Government of Belize to complete the full funding proposal.

The CCCCC has been funding small-scale studies into the viability of the Arundo donax as an alternative energy source for almost four years, and with the help of the Clinton Foundation conducted economic studies to determine the cost-effectiveness of using the plant in the co-generation of electricity.


Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre

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